Ivar's is fighting to keep its restaurant inside Sea-Tac Airport, but it's not clear what – if anything – the local seafood chain will be able to do.
Several dozen employees and customers showed up to the Port of Seattle commissioners meeting to protest the decision to award the contract to another restaurant instead.
Ivar's has operated a location inside the central terminal for the past 12 years.
During the latest bidding cycle, the Port of Seattle awarded the contract to the Lucky Louie Alaska Fish Shop, which is a local start-up launched by two women.
"The interview process was a sham," said Ivar's president Bob Donegan, who claimed the Port did not accurately consider his company's longstanding ties to the Northwest and other factors when making its decision.
The Port reviewed four bids based on seven categories, including financial estimates, experience, environmental sustainability, and business size.
Ivar's came in third place with 123 points out of a possible 150.
The winner, Lucky Louie, received 128 points.
The restaurants received similar scores for most categories with the exception of business size.
The process favored small businesses. Out of a total of 20 points in that category, Lucky Louie was awarded all 20 points since it was founded by two employees and has no other locations. Ivar's received eight points, since it has nearly 30 locations.
Lucky Louie will be operated by Kathy Casey, who owns a second airport restaurant, Dish D'Lish. Like Ivar's, the cafe did not have its lease renewed after 10 years at Sea-Tac and is looking to relocate.
A spokesman for the Port of Seattle says the decision is final, although Ivar's or any bidder is permitted to appeal if they identify a flaw in the process.